the girls - HOBNOB Magazine

Posts Tagged ‘the girls’

Easy Bang Bang Chicken from Sasha Wilkins Author of Friends, Food, Family

Posted on: November 28th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

A cookbook that makes entertaining easy, fun, relaxed. See the recipe for Bang Bang Chicken, a buffet-style dinner that allows guests to fill their own rice pancakes as they please.

Fashion editor and founder of LibertyLondonGirl.com, Sasha Wilkins knows a thing or two about being a modern hostess. Wilkins has traveled the world, feeding friends and family everywhere she goes. To her, being a modern hostess means nixing the fuss without sacrificing style and quality. Her tips and recipes allow you to spend more time talking to your friends and family, and less time sweating over the stove. This is why we chose to include this cookbook as part of Hobnob’s plan for hosting weekend guests.

The ideas in FRIENDS FOOD FAMILY apply to all sorts of gatherings, from impromptu guests to perfect picnics and long weekend brunches. Including influences from her treks around the globe, Wilkins’s hope is help readers “rustle up a meal anywhere from a beach house in Cornwall to a youth hostel kitchen somewhere idyllic via the tiniest of Manhattan apartments, whether using food from the back of the fridge or from a fancy food market.”

hobnobmag Bang Bang Chicken

In thinking about your weekend guests, recipes like Bang Bang Chicken, a dish of DIY chicken wraps with tons of fresh vegetables and a spicy peanut sauce, or her puff pastry-topped Giant Chicken Pie will be sure crowd pleasers. Breakfast is a breeze with tips for poaching eggs for a crowd and no-brainer dishes like a granola parfait, a layering of fruit, yogurt, and granola, topped with eye- and mouth-popping pomegranate seeds in pretty water glasses. You can make them ahead of time and chill overnight. Wilkins also embraces the great outdoors with hot, comforting dishes you can make ahead and reheat, perfect for ravenous guests coming in from the ski slopes, or perfectly packaged sandwiches and salads-in-jars to take with you on hikes. Whether you’re feeding friends at an afternoon tea, a traditional Sunday lunch, or a warm weather picnic, Wilkins has your group covered.

recipe

BANG BANG CHICKEN

I don’t just love this dish because of its name (which is irresistibly good and comes from the noise made when cooks would tenderize the chicken by banging it with a mallet) but because it is as finger-lickin’ good as it is easy. It’s so simple that it would be a great recipe to make with children, although there is nothing childish about it. It originates from Sichuan, where the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns makes it a much fierier dish than we eat in the West. (Feel free to add 1 or 2 tsp if you crave the burn.)

hobnobmag bang bang chicken

Bang bang chicken is usually served with its sauce over noodles—either rice or mung bean—but I like to serve mine as a DIY version with all the ingredients separated, so the eaters can choose their favorite combination to roll up in a pancake. I first made this for a Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) supper party, which I didn’t want to feel like a one-note meal, so I used a different kind of pancake for each course. The ones I use to wrap the chicken in are the thin, rice versions that you can find in any Asian supermarket, often in the freezer section. They are inexpensive and are packaged so that you can just remove what you need, and put the others back in the freezer. (I find them very useful for last-minute suppers.)

SERVES 6

FOR THE CHICKEN & NOODLES

6 chicken breasts (on the bone)
7 oz rice noodles
sesame oil

Rinse the chicken breasts under a running faucet. Put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and poach gently for 15 minutes. Check the inside of a breast, and if there is any hint of pinkness, simmer for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the water, take off the skin, and discard. Reserve the poaching liquid. Pull the meat from the bone and shred neatly—you can use a fork or your fingers.

Plunge the rice noodles into a pan of boiling water. They should cook almost immediately, but do check package instructions. Drain, then add a drop of sesame oil to stop them sticking together.

FOR THE SAUCE

8 TB peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
6 TB sweet chili sauce
2 tsp lime juice
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB sesame oil

Dump the sauce ingredients in another pan with 1 cup of the reserved poaching liquid. Mix thoroughly and heat over gentle heat to warm through. (Do not to let it burn—burnt peanuts smell revolting.)

FOR THE TABLE

30 rice pancakes (4 per head, plus a few extra)
3 TB sesame seeds
2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots (optional)
2 romaine lettuces
Bunch scallions
1 to 2 cucumbers
1/2 bunch cilantro

If you have a steamer, place it over a pan of simmering water, and add the pancakes to the basket to warm through. Otherwise, they can be wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven.

Heat a frying pan and pour in the sesame seeds to toast for 30 seconds. (This is optional, but they taste better toasted.)

For the table, rinse the bean sprouts, grate the carrots, if using, separate the lettuce leaves, shred the onions, and cut the cucumber into matchsticks.

TO SERVE

Arrange the chicken, noodles, pancakes, vegetables, and cilantro on a series of plates. Pour the sauce into 2 bowls. Put the sesame seeds in a little bowl. Let everyone assemble their own pancakes at the table. Don’t forget lots of napkins, as the sauce drips down chins and fingers.

(If you are making this on a hot summer day, don’t heat the sauce and allow the chicken and the noodles to cool to room temperature.)

Excerpted from Friends, Food, Family: Essential Recipes, Tips and Secrets for the Modern Hostess, from Liberty London Girl by Sasha Wilkins by arrangement with Quadrille Publishing, distributed by Chronicle Books, Copyright © 2015 by Sasha Wilkins.

Butternut Squash Soup with Red Curry Coconut Milk

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This soup can be made very quickly, once you have an already roasted squash. We upped the ante on this butternut squash soup with the addition of curry paste and coconut milk—the Indian and Thai spices make it rich, and the coconut milk gives it an appealing creaminess.

We created this dish as part of a plan for hosting weekend guests. If you are following the weekend guest plan, then you would have the roasted butternut squash you made the night before.  Make this soup while creating the Veggie Crepes, and serve together.

MAKES 12 SMALL MUG SERVINGS OR 4 LARGE BOWLS

START THE SOUP

2 TB olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

20 oz vegetable stock

Heat oil. Saute onion and spices 5 min. Add broth and cook for 10 min.

INCORPORATE THE ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

1 butternut squash, roasted

10 oz unsweetened coconut milk
3 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp salt

squeeze of lime for garnish (optional)

Cut squashes in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and skin, then cut into cubes. Spoon out the flesh and add to the pot, stir to incorporate. Add coconut milk, curry paste, and cook for 10 min.

Process in blender or food processor in batches (or use an immersion blender). Season with salt.

Offer the lime at the table for those who would like to add a squeeze to their soup.

Creative Crepes for Breakfast & Lunch: Palacinky (Slovak Crepes)

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I have such fond memories of eating these for breakfast hot off the pan with strawberry preserves and a light sprinkling of salt on the top. But you can put most anything into these crepes. To make creative crepes: add vegetables, creamy sauces, or even ground meat. They are a great leftover reviver!

If you are following our weekend guest hosting plan, make a large batch for breakfast, then parlay the surplus batter into the Veggie Crepes for lunch. The batter gets better with time. For the lunch filling, use the vegetables you roasted the night before, along with a choice of sauces: the Lemon Beurre Blanc from the cod recipe and Black Truffle Dip from the brussels sprouts recipe .

MAKES 9 NINE-INCH CREPES

MAKE THE BATTER

2 CUPS flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs
2 CUPS milk

Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together, then add to flour mix. Beat until smooth. The batter should be thick enough to hold together, yet be able to spread out on the heated skillet quickly, to create thin crepes. Use the first crepe as a test—if it comes out too thick, stir in a little milk to the batter to thin it out.

COOK THE SLOVAK CREPES

1 tsp butter for each crepe
1 tsp strawberry preserves (or your favorite flavor) for each crepe

Heat skillet over medium heat, enough to melt the butter quickly, but not brown it. Melt butter and pour one ladel-full of batter and immediately tilt the skillet to cover the entire bottom of pan.

When crepe is brown on one side, flip with spatula. Move to a plate, and with a spoon spread preserves thinly all over one side. Roll, and serve immediately to each guest.

SATURDAY LUNCH: VEGGIE CREPES

grilled vegetables
Lemon Beurre Blanc sauce
Black Truffle Dip

Reheat the grilled vegetables from dinner the night before in the oven or in a skillet. Let guests choose which sauce they prefer to spread over the crepes before adding the veggies, and rolling. Serve with Red Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup (see recipe).

Roasted Cod in Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce: Quick & Decadent

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

You can definitely place roasted cod in the comfort food category if you add a rich sauce to it. That’s where this lemon beurre blanc sauce comes in, with its buttery goodness.

I created this recipe to go with a plan for hosting weekend guests, which includes extra sauce to use with the next day’s lunch. Do not refrigerate the sauce, as it will separate. Keep out in a cool spot, covered.

SERVES 4 PLUS EXTRA SAUCE

MAKE THE LEMON BEURRE BLANC SAUCE

4 shallots, minced
16 oz prosecco
zest and juice (about 1/2 cup) of 2 lemons
bay leaf
big sprig of thyme on the branch

3 sticks cold salted butter, cubed
s + p

Combine first five ingredients in a non-reactive deep saucepan over high heat. Reduce liquid to 1/4 cup, about 20 min. Lower heat to med, remove thyme, and whisk in butter, one cube at a time until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Season with s + p. Serve sauce with fish, and keep extra out on the counter for crepes the following day.

ROAST THE COD… PREHEAT OVEN 450ºF

4 cod fillets (6 oz each)
2 TB organic sunflower oil
s + p

Get a large skillet hot over med-high heat. Add the sunflower oil and heat, then add fillets skin side down. Sear 5 min till golden. Flip fish, then move skillet into the oven. Roast about 10 min, till the center is opaque, and fish flakes easily. Serve with sauce on the side, and Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley (see recipe).

Healthy Party Snack: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Black Truffle Dip

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When entertaining, you never want your guests to be without food or drink! That’s why it’s important to plan to have some nibbles around while you are preparing dinner and starting to imbibe. I came up with this healthy party snack to take advantage of the fall harvest, when Brussels sprouts are at their peak of sweetness and are abundant everywhere. I paired it with a dip made of  black truffle pâté mixed with sour cream, to give it even more dimension. Tip: Make sure to really caramelize the Brussels sprouts in the pan for full flavor effect. You can have this dish served in 15 minutes, to great applause.

I developed this recipe as part of a plan for hosting weekend guests. The plan gives you ideas for serving from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. This is the welcome snack, the one to serve before dinner on Friday night. See the whole plan at this link.

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

MAKE THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 TB olive oil
4 CUPS Brussels sprouts, cut in half (14 oz)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil and add onions. Saute until caramelized, about 7 min. Add in garlic about 6 min, and saute with onions for one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil to the pan with Brussels sprouts. Let sit for 5-7 min to caramelize and blacken, then stir and let cook for an another 5-7 min. (Add oil to the pan if it starts to dry out.) Stir onions/garlic back in. Season with flaky sea salt.

MAKE THE BLACK TRUFFLE DIP

1 CUP sour cream
2 TB La Rusichetta Black Truffle Pâté
pinch salt

Mix together in a small bowl.

A Late Autumn Cocktail with Cider

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

The assortment of sweet and spicy notes in these ingredients are perfect for the late fall season and the focus of this month’s Autumn cocktail with cider.

This cocktail takes advantage of the ciders appearing in your local liquor store and mixes beautifully with vodka, a sweet touch of cola, and salty grapefruit. The bitters pull it all together.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Signature Cocktail: East Cider Apple and fall flavors are emphasized in this slightly sweet and fizzy seasonal cocktail. Take advantage of the ciders now appearing in your local liquor stores. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Shacksbury Classic Craft Cider Some of the most gnarled trees in New England and old world orchards in England and Spain go into making this intense cider from Vermont. Cider is slowly fermented with cultured yeast in stainless steel, then aged for six months. The flavors really hold up in a cocktail. $9. shacksbury.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[3] Industry Standard Vodka Direct from Brooklyn, and distilled from sugar beets, Industry Standard boasts a fruity, complex flavor with hits of vanilla and spice. Vodka “made by nerds” utilizes yeast grown in an on-site lab, from a strain originating in beet fields of France, thus adding dimension to the vodka’s delicate flavor. Go and see how its made for yourself! A tasting room is open to the public, and offers tours, cocktails, plus views of New York Bay every Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10PM, no reservation required. $36. drinkicd.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[4] More Good Syrups Using locally sourced and organic ingredients, More Good has created a line of hand-crafted soda syrup concentrates. In this month’s cocktail we added a bit of the Cassia Kream Syrup whose recipe started out as a take on historical cola, but has added cinnamon and vanilla. With 50% less sugar than main stream sodas, this is the one to use with your Soda Stream. Their shop in Beacon, NY, also offers organic loose leaf tea, organic & fair trade herbs and spices, an extensive selection of over 50 flavors and varieties of cocktail bitters. Another reason to drink More Good: founder Jason Schuler, has partnered with Generosity.org in an effort to make clean water accessible to everyone on the planet, and the company has raised thousands of dollars for the cause. $13. drinkmoregood.com

[5] Bittermilk No. 5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic with Bulls Bay Sea Salt Bittermilk has created a line of cocktail mixers that each feature a bitter agent, a sweetener, and an acid—thus contributing to a well-balanced cocktail. The company is the brain child of husband and wife, Joe and MariElena Raya, of Charleston, South Carolina, a couple with deep roots in the restaurant/bar industry. In developing the No.5, lime and lemon juice were combined with cinchona bark, (the source of quinine for tonic). Fresh grapefruits are peeled and the skins are charred to help bring out bitter yet refreshing notes, then a touch of sea salt helps pull savory caramel notes and rounds out flavor. Works well with any light spirit. $15. shop.bittermilk.com

hobnobmag Autumn Cocktail with Cider

[6] Junior Merino Cachaca Lavender & Yuzu Bitters Junior Merino’s Intensives do the job of intensifying flavors in cocktails, and add complexity and elegance. Each is created with a different spirit base, which gets infused with botanicals. In this month’s cocktail we added a few drops of Cachaca Lavender and Yuzu. Also perfect for salad dressings, marinades, ceviche, soup, stew, desserts or seafood. $18.

Remee Klos of Holiday Cocktail Lounge Shares a Couple of Retro Cocktails

Posted on: October 17th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Retro cocktails from a landmark spot on St. Marks Place in the East Village, NYC. One comes complete with cocktail umbrella and plastic toy you can keep as souvenirs. It’s sophisticated kitsch.

It’s so commendable, and quite rare, to see a NYC neighborhood stand-by come back to life without losing its original charm and downtown spirit. For nearly 100 years, this St. Marks Place bar has attracted notables with personality (including Madonna, Sinatra, Keith Richards, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Allen Ginsburg, Leon Trotsky) that have infused their mark and energy into the space.

HOBNOBMAG Retro Cocktails from a NYC landmark

Holiday Cocktail Lounge, has received a loving, modern-with-kitsch makeover with the vision of Barbara Sibley, the East Village’s ‘resident anthropologist’. Under her guidance, extruded paneled walnut walls and a mint-green banquette give the space a vintage feel, transporting you right back to the ’50s. The renovation unearthed remnants of past incarnations, including a mural of a harem scene from the bar’s time as Ali Baba; a phone booth (one of only a handful left in NYC) with its original phone number; and, remarkably, a Prohibition-era tunnel that allows escape across St. Marks Place.

Her menu is hyper-local, featuring the best within a five-minute stroll from Holiday—including saffron, turmeric and shiso leaves to home-cured kielbasa and freshly baked challah. Sibley is chef and owner of neighboring restaurant, La Palapa, another staple of the neighborhood.

HOBNOBMAG Retro Cocktails from a NYC landmark

Cocktails are cultivated by brothers Michael and Danny Neff, so you know they are stellar. “We are committed to honoring its gritty, celebrity-studded past, while maintaining the creative ‘anything can happen’ ethos of the East Village. By marrying the bonhomie and warmth of a timeless neighborhood bar with a world-class drinks program, we’re planning to incubate some fantastic experiences,” says Michael Neff. ‘Nuff said.

On our visit, we got our cocktails from the funky and lovely Remee Klos, who gives us her terse report on working at Holiday.

HOBNOB: What’s the vibe like at Holiday?
RK: Fun. Always.

Do you get any visits from former luminaries?
What happens at Holiday, stays at Holiday.

What’s the best night to go?

That depends on how much tomfoolery you are in the mood for. You get more quality time with the fantastic bartenders Sundays and Mondays. But here, everyday is a Holiday.

Where have we seen you before Holiday?
The Library, Saxon & Parole, Hop Sing Laundromat.

Open every day from 3pm to 4am, as a landmark should be. holidaycocktaillounge.nyc

I included these two cocktails as part of a plan for hosting a Day of the Dead party because right next door at La Palapa, Barbara Sibley hosts a fabulous tribute to the holiday, with her authentic, traditional Mexican fare.

The Chocoholic Cocktail Featuring Exotic Dark Rum with Pineapple

Posted on: October 11th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

The Day of the Dead party gets even more spooky with this shadowy concoction. In this chocoholic cocktail, I  created a deep, dark mix with a unique, antique rum and married it with tropical flavors. Chocolate and cherries also make an appearance.

This recipe goes with the party plan for hosting a Day of the Dead party or Halloween party, with all of the food is celebratory orange and black.

DETAILS ON THE COCKTAIL’S INGREDIENTS:

[1] Signature Cocktail: The Chocoholic Dark and stormy hues, and strong waves of fruit and chocolate make this the perfect autumn sipper. Brew the tea ahead of time and store in the fridge before your gathering. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Plantation “Stiggin’s Fancy” Pineapple Dark Rum Do not think of this as a flavored rum, a la Captain Morgan. Cocktail historian David Wondrich worked with the owner of Maison Ferrand to create this Caribbean wonder. In fact, recipes from the 1700s were referred to, and this experiment wowed bartenders from around the world at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans. To create this exquisite mix, pineapples are first soaked in the dark rum for 3 months, then the rind of the pineapple is macerated into the blend, thus extracting all its essential oils. It’s a truly sophisticated taste that can be sipped on its own, or mixed as it is here. $30.

hobnobmag chocoholic cocktail

[3] Republic of Tea Hibiscus Coconut Tea In keeping with a tropical palate, hibiscus flowers and coconut join the notes of pineapple in the rum in this cocktail. So refreshing, and positively good for you. Buying this tea allows you to Support Action Against Hunger, with $1 for each tin donated to create sustainable food and water solutions to communities faced with scarcity. Republic of Tea responsibly packages the goods in air-tight, light-resistant tins holding 36 unbleached tea bags, without unnecessary envelopes, strings, tags or staples. $10.25. republicoftea.com

[4] Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters A family business since 1864, these bitters add the chocolate-y touch, and take the cocktail over to the dark side. About $10. feebrothers.com

[5] Luxardo The Original Maraschino Cherries It is highly recommended to keep a jar of these in your fridge, for adding a punch of wow to cocktails, cheese boards, and sweets. These specimens are perfectly textured, sour Marasca cherries in a bright, sweet syrup. From the Veneto region of Italy, The Luxardo family has been cultivating cherry trees for this treat and its renowned Maraschino Liqueur. No preservatives or thickeners added. About $20. luxardo.it

Roasted Carrots with Creamy Kale Dip: A Tricolor Harvest Splendor

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When coming up with recipes for entertaining, I always like to include the idea of healthy ingredients. So, during the fall, when carrots are at their peak, a tricolor of roasted carrots could be the sweetest dish on the table. They make a nice match to the Creamy Kale dip, whose base is ricotta and yogurt, with added blend of spices in the mix.

The deep purple and orange tones of the carrots mimic an orange and black color duo, perfect for Halloween or Day of the Dead parties. Check the link to see the whole menu, which celebrates the harvest in a party-friendly way.

MAKES ABOUT 60 CARROT STICKS AND ABOUT 2 CUPS OF CREAMY KALE DIP

ROAST THE CARROTS…PREHEAT OVEN 400ºF

1 LB tricolor carrots, with green tops
2 TB EV olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 TB thyme, minced

Place carrots in a row on a baking sheet lined with parchment, drizzle with olive oil and honey, then sprinkle with thyme. Roast for 1 hour.

MAKE THE CREAMY KALE DIP

2 TB EV olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch curly kale, sliced into thin ribbons (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp salt

1 CUP fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 CUP Greek yogurt
1 TB thyme, chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

In large pan, heat olive oil. Add red pepper flakes, garlic, saute 30 sec. Add kale, salt, and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 min till cooked through. Allow to cool.
Transfer to food processor. Add rest of the ingredients and pulse until smooth.

TO SERVE

thyme, minced, for garnish (optional)

Present carrots on a serving platter with a bowl of the creamy kale dip, sprinkle with more thyme.

Stuffed Apricots with Pistachios and Cream: A Slippery, Creamy Dessert

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When looking for a fruity dessert, that’s not too filling, apricots can fit the bill. To make these stuffed apricots with pistachios we started out with dried apricots, so this is something you can make even when apricots are not in season. Amazingly, they come back to life, and make the most amazing syrup. You can eat then with just the syrup, if you like, but adding the marscapone gives it a little richness, and the nuts add a little crunch and complement the fruit nicely.

This recipe creates an oozy, sweet light dessert, nice to include on your Halloween party menu featuring a graphic orange and black combination of things.

MAKES 20 BITES

SOAK THE APRICOTS

20 dried apricots
2 cups water

Soak the apricots in cold water overnight.

COOK THE APRICOTS… MAKE THE SYRUP

1/2 CUP turbinado sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

Remove apricots from liquid. Add the liquid to a pan with sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 min. Add apricots and simmer for 20 min till apricots are tender. Remove apricots, continue simmering liquid another 20 min till the liquid thickens to a syrup. Remove from heat, squeeze in lemon juice. Allow to cool. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.

MAKE THE CREAM FILLING

1/2 CUP mascarpone cheese
1/4 CUP pistachio nuts, chopped finely
1/2 TB lemon thyme, minced

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

CREATE THE BITES

cooked apricots
cream filling
1/8 CUP pistachio nuts, chopped
syrup
powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

Cut apricots in half leaving one side attached. Spoon in cream filling, and close. Roll edge in pistachios. Drizzle syrup on top. Spear with small fork. Dust with powdered sugar.

Chipotle Salsa with Brown Tomatoes: A Deeper Tone

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When you see brown tomatoes in your supermarket, give them a shot. They are mild and juicy and work wonderfully in a salsa. Tip: Removing the seeds from the tomatoes makes for a chunkier, and less wet salsa, and much nicer to eat.

We chose to plate the chipotle salsa with blue corn tortilla chips to continue the serious deep mood. This will make a statement on your party buffet for sure. This recipe is part of our Halloween menu, which conforms to an orange and black color theme to give your buffet a holiday feel.

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

GRAB A NICE SHARP KNIFE…

5 brown tomatoes
1 can of chipotle peppers, chopped, adobo sauce reserved
juice of half lime
2 TB cilantro, chopped finely

To create nice little tomato chunks, cut a slice off the top, then cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and flatten. In a bowl, mix in chipotles, lime juice, and cilantro. Depending on how spicy you want it, add adobo sauce incrementally.

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If you’ve never tried squid ink pasta, then this is the recipe that will make you fall in love with it. Not only does it have a captivating look, it lends a flavor all its own.

We thought it would be a great dish to serve at a Halloween or Day of the Dead party, and paired it with toasted breadcrumbs and shrimp to adhere to an orange and black menu that we developed especially for Halloween entertaining. This dish is truly spectacular, and so simple to make. It ranks as one of my top recipes on this website, when I see the photo, I just crave it. Do not leave off the breadcrumb mixture, they complete the dish beautifully.

MAKES ABOUT 20 SMALL BOWLS

COOK THE PASTA

1 LB Filotea La Pasta Originale Spaghetti Chitarra al Nero di Seppia (squid ink pasta)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 3 min. When draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce.

TOAST THE BREADCRUMBS

2 TB EV olive oil
1 CUP panko breadcrumbs
1/8 CUP thyme, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Heat olive oil gently in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, herbs and lemon zest, saute for about 3 min, till the crumbs have browned. Set aside.

MAKE THE SAUCE

1/2 CUP EV olive oil
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 CUP white wine
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 min. Add garlic, saute for about 1 min (do not let it brown). Add wine, crushed red pepper, and salt and let reduce by half, about 5 min.

ADD THE SHRIMP

1/2 CUP pasta water
1 LB shrimp, shells removed

Add water and shrimp, bring to a boil, cover and let shrimp poach for 2 min, stirring once. Toss with cooked pasta, and let flavors meld another 2 min.

To serve individually, use small bowls or cups and top with 1 shrimp apiece, with a sprinkling of breadcrumb mix on the top. Place dessert forks in each serving.

Marinated Black Olive Bruschetta: Back in Black for Halloween

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Bruschetta is a fun party offering, where you can set our pre-made toasts, or just let your guests make their own. We chose crinkly Moroccan olives for this Black Olive Bruschetta, because of their intense taste, and the ability to hold up to the marinade without getting mushy. They lost a little of their leathery texture and soaked up the flavors nicely. The orange slices and curls add to the orange and black theme, in addition to giving the olives an additional level of taste.

Halloween and Day of the Dead parties are getting spookier by the minute! See the full menu in our party theme Spooky Harvest: a squid ink pasta, roasted carrots, and tomato soup—to name a few recipes in the party mix.

MAKES ABOUT 30 BITES

MARINATE THE OLIVES

2 CUPS black olives
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp orange zest
3 slices orange
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 TB parsley, chopped
EV olive oil

Lightly crush the olives, and transfer to a glass jar with a lid. Add the spices and cover with olive oil. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, shaking the jar occasionally.

MAKE THE BLACK OLIVE BRUSCHETTA

crusty baguette, cut into thin slices
EV olive oil
orange curls, for garnish
thyme, minced, for garnish

Drizzle olive oil onto bread. Take marinated olives and crush 3 onto each baguette slice. Top with orange curls and a touch of thyme. Or just leave out the ingredients and let guests make their own toasts.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese: A Halloween Treat

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Soup is a super easy way to get copious bites onto your party buffet. We paired tomato soup with grilled cheese to tie into a Halloween theme of black and orange hues, The bright orange tones of the soup and dark rye bread create a nice, spooky presence, much like the other recipes from our Halloween party plan.  Check the link to see the entire repertoire.

Serve this soup warm or cold. Guajillo pepper, avocado and cilantro add to the flavor mix.

MAKES 40 SHOOTERS & MINI GRILLED CHEESE BITES

ROAST THE TOMATOES… PREHEAT OVEN 375°F

2 LB heirloom tomatoes, quartered
EV olive oil
s + p

Spread tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with s + p. Roast on the middle shelf for about 1 hour, till the skins are blistered and the tomatoes have shrunk in size.

PREPARE THE CHILE

1 whole dried guajillo chile

Simmer for 10 min to soften. Let sit in water for 10 min more.

START THE SOUP

3 TB EV olive oil
1 med onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 guajillo chile, soaked
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 min. Stir in the garlic and pepper, sauté another 4 min. Incorporate crushed tomatoes, simmer covered for 10 min.

FINISH THE SOUP

2 CUPS organic chicken broth
roasted tomatoes
1/4 CUP cilantro, minced
1/4 CUP turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, then continue to simmer covered, about 30 min, stirring occasionally. Remove guajillo chile. Let soup cool slightly, then transfer to a blender in batches. Blend until smooth.

MAKE THE GRILLED CHEESE

1 stick butter, room temperature
10 slices rye bread
1 LB extra sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature

Toast the bread, then butter one side of each slice of bread. Into a heated skillet, place bread buttered side down, top with cheddar, and 2nd slice of bread with butter on the outside. Press together. Heat for 4 to 5 min, flip and heat another 5 min. Move to a cutting board and let cool slightly, cut in half, then each half on the diagonal, into 4 triangles.

TO SERVE

1 avocado, cut into small cubes, for garnish
sprigs of cilantro, for garnish

Pour soup into shooter glasses about 3/4 of the way, top with a cube of avocado and sprig of cilantro. Insert grilled cheese triangle into the top at an angle.

A Cognac Cocktail from Gregory Buda of The Dead Rabbit

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Enjoy this exquisite sipper from the bar voted “best in the world”. This cognac cocktail includes a touch of rye, madeira, and amaro, a trifecta of smooth, intense notes.

This party’s suggested  cocktail comes from the renowned bar located all the way downtown, NYC. The Dead Rabbit models itself on a traditional Irish bar from the 1800s, where a shop selling pantry favorites would be located on the ground floor. There are two more floors boasting truly excellent cocktails, some served in tea cups, and all in a boisterous atmosphere. The second floor is where you want to be for the full-service exoerience.

See more of my tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in the UP YOUR GAME party plan. You’ll see recipes for upscale small bites, and more. Serve this potent cognac cocktail sipper to your fellow fans at the end of the game, to drown your sorrows, or celebrate!

Read our interview with Gregory Buda, and his take on working at this extremely popular establishment.

The Dead Rabbit was just awarded “World’s Best Bar” at Tales of the Cocktail. Has there been an increase in customers? Is the pressure on?
I would say that there has definitely been an increase in volume resulting from the press about our awards, which is great, especially in the summer. As for the pressure, it’s always on! Being the best means being dynamic, and we recognize that we can always do better and always improve. We have an awesome staff that constantly brings new ideas to the table on how we can up our game. We won that award not because our drinks are better than everyone else’s, but rather because we offer a really cool and unique experience when you come in.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

What is the most asked for spirit at the bar?

Dead Rabbit is known for having one of the most extensive Irish whiskey selections in the world, and a lot of people come in curious to try something new. It is also one of our goals to promote Irish whiskey as a category, which we do through cocktails, education, and tastings. However, in terms of other spirits, I have been thrilled that more and more guests come in asking about Japanese whisky, mezcal, and Armagnac, three categories that I am very excited about and that have been under people’s radar until recently.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

You are a photographer as well as mixologist. Are you influenced by how the drink looks as well as tastes?
Without question! Your experience of a drink has many facets to it. The obvious ones are aroma, taste, and texture, but presentation and glassware play a huge part as well. The visual appearance of a cocktail is the first part of your experience, so if I make sure it is spectacular, it sets your expectations appropriately for how the drink will taste. A normal comment that I get when I am behind the bar is “What is THAT drink over there?! I’ll have one of those.” And this is said without the guest having any idea what is in the cocktail or how it tastes. Personally, I prefer drinks to be presented in a classic but elegant way. Overly extravagant garnishes and glassware make me question whether the cocktail can speak for itself.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

How many cocktails at The Dead Rabbit can be credited to you? What’s your favorite ingredient that can improve almost any mix?
Currently, 12 of the cocktails in our third edition book menu are my creations, and I have come up with another seven or so for our seasonal menus. My secret ingredient is sherry, and I use different styles of sherry in almost all of the drinks I come up with, whether for menus, competitions, or articles. Before coming to Dead Rabbit, I worked at a beautiful sherry and cocktail bar called The Beagle (now closed) on the Lower East Side, and fell in love. As a bartender, it is a personal mission of mine to promote sherry as a category, and my favorite way to introduce people to its beauty is with a good sherry cocktail. I find that sherry really is a magical ingredient, and if I just can’t get a cocktail to taste the way that I want, adding a little sherry is usually the answer.

deadrabbit.com

Host an Exotic Tequila Tasting, Featuring Easy Prickly Pear Margaritas

Posted on: September 7th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Tequila is what we like to call the cognac of Mexico. You have to appreciate the artisanal quality of the spirit, birthed from the purest of environments. Host a tequila tasting at your next gathering to learn to discern the nuances.

Doing a proper tasting educates your palate to the nuances of each spirit, allowing a proper appreciation for the subtleties and leanings. Try this tasting at your next big sporting event gathering and check out my party menu of upscale bites to serve.

In this month’s crusade for party fodder we met with Chef Richard Caruso of Javelina (who shared his recipe for Habanero Glazed Chicken Wings) and there we also got to sip and taste a selection of premier tequilas. It certainly was a heady afternoon.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Signature Cocktail If you are not sipping tequila straight, try the Prickly Pear Margarita enhanced by Bungalow 23’s mixer for Prickly Pear Margarita. (see recipe with this post, and details on Bungalow 23 below)

[2] Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Los Altos, in the Tequila region of Mexico, is known for its abundance of large and fruity agave, which is the sole source for this organic tequila. Powerful at 100 Proof, this spirit definitely provides an extra kick. Our fave, the Añejo, is aged in American bourbon whiskey barrels, where it achieves its rich, amber color and full-bodied flavor. Tasting Notes: intense agave and fruit notes with delicate flashes of vanilla and wood, giving way to a sweet, smooth finish. An excellent sipping tequila, especially delicious with a slice of orange sprinkled with cinnamon. About $53. dulcevidaspirits.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[3] Selección Suprema de Herradura This was the most popular of the tasting, and adored for an exceptional smooth and mellow experience. Estate bottled at Casa Herradura, this 100% pure agave, extra añejo tequila is allowed to age a whopping 49 months in imported oak barrels. Savor a sip of this one for sure. About $300. brown-forman.com

[4] Milagro Tequila In 1998, college friends Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi loved the creativity happening in Mexico City and wanted to bring this passion to the world of Tequila. They teamed up with Pedro Juarez, a Master Distiller, who created a master plan starting with 100% blue agave from the Jalisco Highlands, then cooked the piñas in traditional, hand-built, brick ovens for 36 hours to pull out the most flavor. The Barrel Reserve Reposado Select, then gets aged in both American and French oak barrels for 3 to 6 months, resulting in a perfect balance of agave and oak. Tasting Notes: Focus on vanilla, white pepper and cinnamon, with a dry finish. About $55. milagrotequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[5] Blue Nectar Tequila A father and son with a shared love for tequila, who made a tradition of gifting each other special bottles, led them to creating a special brand of their own. They took a journey searching the lowlands of Jalisco, and on one horrid day in the pouring rain, and at the end of a muddy road, they came across a pair of wild brothers in cowboy hats whose passion for tequila matched their own. Blue Nectar tequila is the result, and is totally true to the terroir of the region’s volcanic soils. Distinct and well-balanced with a rich, earthy body. Aged in North American white oak whiskey & bourbon barrels. About $45. bluenectartequila.com

[6] 1800 Milenio Extra Añejo Originally released in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, the 1800 Milenio exemplifies the taste of fine Weber Blue Agave and worthy of only those who appreciate the best sipping tequilas. This brand is aged for five years, then finished in French oak ex-cognac barrels for four months before bottling. The dark amber gold color shows off its association with oak and is compared to many major bourbons on the market. Tasting Notes: balanced and soft with unique flavor—notes of vanilla, red fruit and cinnamon. About $125. 1800tequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[7] Bungalow 23 Mixers Premium spirits deserve a mixer of the same caliber. By sourcing optimal ingredients, Bungalow 23 has developed a trio of intricate mixers that elevate and enhance a spirit—with just a pour. Their mixes are complex and dense and can stand up to a glassful of ice. For this month’s cocktail, we chose to accompany our top-notch tequilas with the Prickly Pear Margarita mix, whose star fruit comes from California’s Salinas Valley and mingles with fresh limes and oranges plus a smattering of blue agave and cilantro. (See the recipe with this post for creating a sophisticated, mixologist-worthy margarita) Other flavors include Pear Ginger Martini, which starts with pears grown from the Cascade Mountains in Washington and mixes with ginger, lemon, lemongrass, and a touch of sugar. Light and luscious, it marries beautifully with rich dishes, ripe cheeses, and Asian cuisine. Blueberry Lemon Drop harvests blueberries from Willamette Valley in Oregon, and rounds it out with not only lemons but lemongrass and lavender to complete the experience. Stock this assortment in your bar. $17.50 b23mixers.com

Host this tequila tasting at your next big sports match-up. We guarantee a raucous time will be had by all!

Not So Sweet Dessert: Smoked Almond Dip with Apples

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I’m one of those people that is interested in finding recipes for desserts in the not so sweet category. In coming up with a menu for watching a sporting event,  I thought a savory nut dip would fit the bill. You can pair this dip with either crisp, citrus-y apples, carrots or pretzels. See more upscale recipes in our Classy Sports party theme menu.

MAKES ENOUGH DIP FOR AT LEAST 72 APPLE SLICES

GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR

2 CUPS smoked roasted almonds

5 TB peanut oil

Pulse nuts till very crumbly. Drizzle oil into running processor. Process with light touch.

ADD FLAVOR TO THE MIXTURE

2 TB tamari
1/4 CUP of water
juice of 1 lime
2 TB maple syrup
1 TB smoked salt

Add all ingredients to almond mixture. Process till combined.

SLICE THE APPLES

3 apples
juice of 1/2 lime

Slice apples in half, quarter. Remove core, cut each quarter into 6 slices. In bowl, toss apple slices with freshly squeezed lime juice. When displaying, stick one or more apple slices in dip to encourage dipping.

Health-Conscious Party: Sesame-Crusted Tuna in Miso Ginger Sauce

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Not every party dish needs to be corruptive to your normal focus on nutrition. Health-conscious party fare can be just as delicious as the junk. These barely-cooked tuna bites will provide a gourmet bit. Tip: Make sure to buy sushi-grade tuna, (here’s a great source) since it will be only seared. Your health-conscious and dieting sports fan friends will be duly impressed when they see this on the roster. The lettuce leaf not only makes a pretty wrap, it makes it easy to pick up and eat.

If you love to entertain in style, I’ve come up with a whole menu for impressing your favorite sports fans, see it all here. Forget hotdogs and chili.

MAKES 10-12 BITES + ABOUT 3/4 CUP OF SAUCE

MAKE THE MISO GINGER SAUCE

2-inch pc fresh ginger, chopped
3 TB brown rice miso
juice of 1 lime
1 TB tamari
1 TB grape seed oil
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB sesame oil
3 TB white balsamic vinegar

In a food processor, blend all ingredients until creamy. Refrigerate overnight for more intense flavors.

PREPARE THE TUNA

10 oz sushi-grade ahi tuna steak (if frozen, defrost overnight in the fridge)

Pat dry. Cut tuna into elongated cubes (about 1 1/2 inches square).

COAT THE TUNA

2 TB black sesame seeds
2 TB white sesame seeds
salt

In a flat bowl, add the sesame seeds and salt. Coat tuna on all four sides.

COOK THE TUNA

1 TB grape seed oil
tuna

In a warm skillet, heat oil. Sear tuna about 30 sec each side, using tongs to turn.

MAKE THE BITES

seared tuna
baby bibb lettuce leaves
miso ginger sauce

Cut tuna into 1/2 -inch slices. Place each slice on a leaf of bibb lettuce, top with sauce.

Chicken a Whole New Way—Dressed in a Smoked Cumin Mayo

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Make chicken a whole new way. We accomplished this with The Smoking Gun by PolyScience, which adds smoke flavor without adding heat. Guys, and gals, will love using this gadget. The Smoking Gun is perfect for smoking just about anything—mayo, butter, juices, you-name-it. You’ll be really surprised at how much flavor can be added in a minute amount of time, the mayo only needed about two minutes.

We love this recipe as part of the classy menu we created for serving while watching the big game. Sports fans can graze on these bites all through the game. Alternate serving idea: Mix the smoked mayo with chicken bites to create a chicken salad and serve atop crackers or make mini sandwiches.

MAKES ABOUT 80 BITES

GRILL THE CHICKEN BREASTS

1 LB chicken breasts
smoked salt

Get a grill pan nice and hot. Cut breasts into uniform thickness, if necessary, separate the tenderloin. Sprinkle with smoked salt. Grill.

MAKE THE CUMIN MAYO

2 TB mayo
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked salt

herbs, for garnish (optional)

Mix ingredients together in deep bowl. Spread mayo around the sides to create a lot of surface. Cover bowl in plastic wrap, with the tube from The Smoking Gun inserted. Place wood chips in gun, light it as you would a pipe. Turn on the gun, and allow smoke to fill bowl, about 20 secs. Shut off gun. Allow smoke to remain for 2 to 3 min, (the longer you leave it, the more intense the result will be). Remove plastic. You will get a waft of smoke here, so avoid area with smoke detector. You might want to open a window for a minute to allow smoke to dissipate.

MAKE THE BITES

With a sharp knife, cut breasts into bite-size pieces. Put a dollop of the mayo on the bites using a small spoon. Spear with toothpick. If you have any oregano, parsley or chives around, chop and sprinkle over the bites to decorate.

Wellness Cocktail: Pam Wiznitzer’s Low-Alcohol Sipper

Posted on: August 28th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Wellness cocktail, that may be an oxymoron, but there are certainly different degrees when it comes to imbibing. Pam Winitzer, of Seamstress, NYC, shares a recipe for her bright cocktail with low-alcohol, and her thoughts on mixology trends.

This month’s cocktail recipe, by the lovely Ms. Wiznitzer, is a lightly-sweet blend, with low-alcohol content, ideal for daytime parties.

You just attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and were busy giving seminars and classes. What are you focused on right now?
Right now my focus is on Seamstress and our team at the venue. We have a busy fall coming up and a killer team behind the bar and on the floor that keeps expanding and making every night really memorable for our guests. With menu changes on the horizon and some fun tricks up our sleeves, Seamstress keeps me pretty busy. Beyond the bar I have our amazing USBGNY chapter programming that keeps me attached to my emails and phone, some incredible projects with brands, travel and cocktails weeks, and just leading healthy lifestyle by keeping to a workout regiment and eating well.

Did you see any new trends that intrigued you?

The most outstanding trend that is sweeping our country right now is a focus on the health and wellness of bartenders. There is a stronger emphasis on not only eating well and working out, but also taking social responsibility by drinking less and keeping the “partying” to a more appropriate level. I felt that this year at Tales was and exemplary one with many bartenders and industry professionals really honing in on their behavior and enjoying the week without getting overly intoxicated. In fact, there are loads of people who are cutting out alcohol altogether!

For cocktails, there is a shift towards low proof/session drinks and also incorporating more unique spirits onto a cocktail menu. Vermouth and sherry were stars of the show and incorporated into many of the cocktails currently on menus across the country. As well, the appearance of spirits such as applejack, pisco, Raicilla, Sotol, Eau de Vie, Cognac and other more obscure liquors are finally getting their chance to shine at bars. It’s an exciting time for the smaller spirit producers from these categories because consumers and bartenders are both seeking our new flavors for their programs.

hobnobmag Wellness Cocktail

You’ve switched bars from way downtown (The Dead Rabbit) to the upper east side…how would you say the clientele compare?
New York clientele are the best! I love that the majority of guests who come to Seamstress are locals from the UES, as well as many doctors, nurses, teachers and some other business individuals who work uptown. A phenomenal part of our guests happen to be other industry personnel who work in restaurants and bars above 59th street and love to join us post shift for a great cocktail. As well, many of my guests from the Dead Rabbit (along with my old co-workers from the bar) have traveled uptown to visit, which means the world to me. I really love the people who come to eat and drink with us every night and love to see the returning faces week after week!

hobnobmag Wellness Cocktail

There’s a wee store in the entryway of Seamstress, with a great selection of handmade items, how do you choose who to include?
Steve Laycock and Josh Mazza help to curate the store. We focus on American goods that are of the highest quality and reflect the same ideals that we have at Seamstress (craftsmanship, attention to detail). We currently have syrups from Max Messier’s company Cocktail & Sons, Original drawings from artists Meredith Wing (@moomooi on instagram), Lotuff leather bags, Shinola watches from Detroit and Pendleton Blankets. You can check out our store online to see all of the updates:

seamstressny.com